Project Highlights

  • Work at the interface of flood management and town planning
  • Address the research and policy gap of the impact of green infrastructure at city scales.
  • Learn several transferable skills relating to monitoring and numerical analysis.

The 21st century is experiencing unprecedented urban expansion due to population growth and migration. This, along with climate change and changes in rainfall patterns has resulted in the growing challenge of urban surface water flooding. Traditional approaches to urban design and particularly drainage systems are not appropriate for the 21st Century. Therefore, sustainable alternatives need to be developed to allow the day to day functions of urban spaces to continue i.e. economic productivity, health and wellbeing of users, while becoming more resilient to the increasing hazard of surface water flooding.

Urbanisation has seen significant house and infrastructure development on floodplains. 197 housing developments have been approved against the recommendation of the Environment Agency since 2002, and according to the Committee on Climate Change, 208,664 homes have been built on a floodplain in England from 2001 to 2011, 38,026 of which are in areas of serious flood risk.

The focus of this project is how Green Infrastructure functions and how it can be used within city design to increase flood resilience. Two types of Green Infrastructure will be focussed upon, 1) Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems e.g. detention ponds, rain gardens, and 2) Urban Green Space.Currently, a piecemeal approach is taken for infrastructure development planning, and the cumulative impacts and interactions of each development are unknown. The specific location of impermeable surfaces and green space are believed to influence flood risk. Du et al, (2015) studied this at a regional scale, but the same issues will be important at the sub-city scale level. It is therefore paramount that the design and planning process fully integrates with flood management.

This project aims to account for flood resilience within the town planning process and maximise the multiple benefits from Green Infrastructure.

The specific objectives that would be addressed in this research would be:

  1. To study how cities have evolved over time, and how this has coincided with increased flood risks.
  2. To quantify the multiple benefits of SUDS features and Green Space.
  3. To assess the synergy between Green Infrastructure assets when implemented in combination in treatment trains and at the development scale.
  4. To upscale the impact of Green Infrastructure to the city scale using numerical models.



Figure 1: (a) Example of Green Infrastructure on new urban developments, (b) map of urban green space, and (c) urban flood risk problem in Sheffield.


A combination of field monitoring, numerical modelling and stakeholder engagement will be employed.

Geographical Information Systems will be used to study the growth of cities in the context of building on floodplains using historical maps. The project will also review the procedures of urban design and examine where flood resilience fits at a practical/policy level. A focus group of town planners will be held whereby a novel 9m2 rainfall simulator will be used to test different city layouts. This will allow exploration of the decision-making process and how flood resilience can be balanced with other urban space functions.

Field experiments and continuous monitoring of green infrastructure for environmental parameters e.g. water quantity/quality, air quality, with assets studied in isolation and combination. Numerical modelling, using the itzi hydro-inundation model, will be used to investigate the impact of different Green Infrastructure spatial layouts on flood risk at the city scale.

Training and Skills

Specific training on numerical hydrological modelling and optimisation techniques will be provided by the supervisors and through dedicated courses arranged by HR Wallingford and the Environment Agency. You will also attend a 5 day Annual Catchment Science Summer School, led by internationally leading hydrologists. Further training opportunities will be accessed through the British Hydrological Society. The student will get the opportunity to present their research at a range of national and international conferences, to build communication and networking skills. You will be a member of the Water Group (Water@Lboro), which run a series of seminars and training workshops.


Year 1: Undertake a comprehensive literature review and develop detailed plan of project objectives, and methods focussed upon the design of experiments to test their SUDS effectiveness.

Year 2: Continue the field monitoring of SUDS, and undertake complementary experiments to assess their effectiveness e.g. dye tracing to estimate residence times. Develop models for larger scale assessment of effectiveness and spatial layout of cities could be optimised for flood resilience.

Year 3: Finalise data collection and analysis. Thesis writing. Work closely with stakeholders to ensure key messages are translated into practice.

Partners and collaboration (including CASE)

This project will be done in collaboration with the many industrial partners of the supervisors, including environmental and flood risk managers, such as the Environment Agency, Leicester City Council, Natural England, and Trent Rivers Trust, through the Soar Catchment Partnership, and Architects and Town Planners.

Further Details

For informal discussion about this project, please contact Dr Ian Pattison, i.pattison@lboro.ac.uk

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/civil-building/staff/pattisonian/ @GoWithTheF1ow)

For enquiries about the application process, please contact Berkeley Young b.k.d.young@lboro.ac.uk, School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University. Please quote CENTA18-LU14 when completing your online application form: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/apply/research/.